It’s hard to believe, but 2012 is almost over! Throughout the year, you may have accumulated receipts, investment statements, bills, and other similar documents. Day to day, it can be difficult tracking and organizing all of this information, but with 2013 close at hand, now is a good time to get these documents in order so they are more accessible whenever you need them. While you’re at it, take the time to review your credit report and your estate planning documents if you have yet to do so in 2012.
Decide what personal and financial documents you need to keep and what you can toss (we recommend cross-shredding these). Receipts for minor purchases that are not returnable and/or are out of warranty can be discarded. Monthly and quarterly statements for your checking, savings, and investment accounts are not needed once you have your annual statements.
Once you’ve reduced the paperwork, use different folders to organize the remaining documents by type: Personal (e.g., birth certificates, marriage licenses, will); Financial (e.g., retirement account statements, loan statements, pay stubs); Housing (e.g., property tax receipts, mortgage bills/payments); Insurance (e.g., life, property, auto insurance); and Tax (interest payment records, medical expense records, charitable gift records).
In addition to investing in a cross-cut shredder, consider purchasing a scanner to keep electronic records to back up your documents — or in some cases, replace hard copies to reduce the amount of paper you have on hand.
Review your credit
You have the right to a free credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies once a year. It’s important to review these reports annually to ensure the information it contains is correct. Inaccuracies could negatively affect loan applications and might also be an indication of identity theft. If you find any erroneous items, contact the appropriate credit organization to discuss them and remove them from your report.
There are three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can request free credit reports for all three agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Review estate planning documents
As with your credit report, regularly checking your estate planning documents is important. By checking these at the end of every year, you can consider how events that occurred throughout the year might affect your estate plans. If you do not have any estate planning documents, we strongly encourage you to at least create a will. You can read our article on wills here, and feel free to leave a comment or contact us if you have any questions.
The first 11 months of the year have really flown by, and we’re sure the 12th month won’t be any different! Though we know the holiday season can be extremely busy, we hope you can find the time to organize your personal and financial documents.
Are there any other things we should do before the end of the year? Let us know in the comments below!